Chicken Adobo

Adobo a popular dish in the Philippines. Not to be confused with Spanish adobo, the process involves meat, seafood, or vegetables marinated in vinegar, soy sauce, and garlic, which is browned in oil, and simmered in the marinade. It is the unofficial national dish of the Philippines.

The cooking method is indigenous to Philippines. Early Filipinos cooked their food normally by roasting, steaming or boiling methods. To keep it fresh longer, food was often cooked by immersion in vinegar and salt. Thus, it is very likely that Filipinos could have been cooking meat in vinegar as a means of preservation. This process dates back to the Pre-Hispanic Period and was used for pork and chicken***

Some of my countrymen will correct any recipe that involves adobo. Similar to other dishes with nationwide prominence, adobo has several household variations. For this particular adobo, I used my mother’s recipe as the base and added some other ingredients that she normally will not use. To make chicken adobo, you will need the following:


1 kilo chicken, cut into pieces
1 cup soy sauce
1/3 to 1/2 cup vinegar
1/3 cup Oil
1 medium onion, slices
1 knob garlic, minced finely
Chili flakes (depends on how much heat you can handle or want. If you can find fresh chilis, that will be better)
2-3 pieces dried bay leaves
Muscovado sugar (white or brown sugar will work. Alternatively, you can use honey. I am not putting an exact measurement because, I adjust all the time. To be safe, try 1/4 cup first and the adjust according to your taste)
1 large potato, diced (2 if you want more potatoes)
Boiled eggs (optional)

How to cook my adobo:

  1. Wash the chicken and pat dry. Set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in the pan. Add the garlic. Saute until it turn golden brown. Add the chopped onion when the garlic turns golden brown. To prevent your garlic from becoming inedible charcoal, lower your heat.
  3. When the onions turn translucent, add the chili flakes or the chilis. Saute for about a minute or two.
  4. Add the chicken from a while ago in your garlic-onion-chili mix. Saute and make cure to coat the chicken with the mixture.
  5. Once your chicken is evenly heated, add the soy sauce followed by the vinegar. The soy-vinegar mixture should be able to cover the chicken completely. If not add water. Taste the mixture. It should have a burst of salty and sour flavours.
    • During this time, do not worry if the sourness hurts your throat. The mixture will be reduced until almost no watery mixture is left.
  6. While the mixture is simmering, add the black pepper, muscovado, bayleaves, and potatoes.
    • At this stage, remember to taste your mixture.
    • If you want more heat, add chili.
    • If you want more smokiness to the adobo, add pepper.
    • If you desire both, add both chili and pepper.
    • Muscovado is not very sweet. Its purpose is to enhance the flavor. If you are satisfied with a very tiny hint of sweetness 1/4 cup will be fine. If not, add gradually until you find the perfect blend of sweet, sour, salty, and spicy.
  7. Let everything simmer. Occasionally stir the adobo. Repeat until the liquid mixture is reduced to almost a condensed or sticky texture.
  8. Once your chicken can be visibly seen in your pan, your adobo is done.
  9. Enjoy the chicken adobo with rice and eggs (however you want) on the side.
  10. Adobo can last for a week (or a month) when placed in the fridge.


*** To read more about adobo, please consider the following sources:

  2. Rodell, Paul A. (2002). Culture and Customs of the Philippines. Culture and Customs of Asia. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 102.
  3. Estrella, Serna (June 22, 2013). “Adobo: The History of A National Favorite”. Retrieved March 21, 2016.
  4. Hosking, Richard (2006). Authenticity in the Kitchen: Proceedings of the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery 2005. Oxford Symposium. p. 299.
  5. Ocampo, Ambeth. (February 24, 2009). “Looking Back: ‘Adobo’ in many forms”Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved August 4, 2010.
  6. Domingo de los Santos (1794). Vocabulario de la lengua Tagala, primera y segunda parte: en la primera, se pone primero el Castellano, y despues el Tagalo : y en la segunda al contrario, que son las rayzes simples con sus accentos. N.S. de Loreto. p. 42. Adobo. Quilauìn.
  7. R. P. Matheo Sanchez (1711). Vocabulario de la lengua Bisaya. Colegio de la Sagrada Compania de Jesus. p. 198.

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